Tuesday, September 30, 2014

OAMC photos

Looking for OAMC pictures of the 2014 Romania mission?

You can find them on our Flickr account here.

Then just click on the photo album you'd like to see. 

Here you can find also pictures of OAMC's adventures from today back to the first Mission to Romania in 2009.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Scenes from Romania - Sept. 29

Preparing for a concert in the Sala Auditorium Maximum
It's been a great time for the combined chorus in Romania. New lands, new friends, new opportunities to sing and share the message of love of Christ for each of us. 

Here are some photos of a number of scenes, provided by OAMC member Dennis Nutter. Thanks, Denny!

(Left) OAMC member, blogger and photographer Denny Nutter.

Prayer Focus, Day 10, Sept. 30

Arad Seventh-day Adventist Church, Romania
Romania Mission, Day 10

Tuesday, September 30, 2014
Location:  At Sibiu, Concert. 3rd night in Sibiu!
Scripture and Meditation:

Then the Spirit of the Lord took possession of Gideon (Judges 6:34a NLT).
Gideon, in the middle of a great endeavor stood up for God and accomplished a great victory. We, too, are taking ground from the enemy by proclaiming Jesus’ love. Sometimes we question whether our small part today is in God’s great plan. Yet if we look around for God’s next assignment, we run the risk of harming what we’re working on right now. 

It’s interesting that God’s call for the next assignment came while Gideon was immersed in a challenge. God’s Spirit took possession, and a victory was won. 

“Jesus, I need your Spirit today. Keep me close and show me what to do.”

Today’s Prayer Challenge
Confidence in God and not in ourselves
Guidance for our part of God’s plan
Proclaim Jesus’ love in song and conversation.

Singers/Staff for prayer:
OAMC Support Staff

Report from Romania, Sept. 27 & 28

By Dennis Nutter, OAMC member

Friday, Sept 27 – After a wonderful hotel breakfast, we once again boarded our buses and headed out to the little Adventist Church in Arad, where we had lunch boxes delivered, ate, had staff/team leader meetings.

We changed into our concert attire and headed to the concert hall in Oradea, the Filarmonica de Stat.

This was the largest concert hall so far on this trip. Local city leadership and one representative from Parliament were in attendance and we had multiple speeches of welcome, greeting, and appreciation.

Lots of the crowd stayed behind after the concert wanting to hear more, so as an encore, there was a spontaneous rendition of Soldiers of the Captain sung in the concert hall lobby.

The concert was followed by a boxed supper of heated stuffed green peppers in the intermission break room. We then had a two-hour bus ride to a hotel and two smaller motels in Arad, shortly before midnight. The bus was very quiet the last couple of hours with most of its occupants sound asleep. It was a very short night but probably one of the best nights of sleep so far for this writer.

Sabbath, Sept 28 – The day started early with breakfast at the motel at 7 am, with the buses rolling by 8 am to drive to the church in Arad where our group was responsible for the worship service.

The church was packed with standing room only. The church members had arranged for a dinner reception at a large public hall about 6-10 city blocks from the church. A full-course meal was graciously laid out on long tables for us.

There were many Gypsy homes in the neighborhood. We were told that they are not lived in but more of a competition to see who could build the biggest and the best. They are not finished inside, with the exception perhaps of a single bed in an unfinished room. Most of the families, if they are there, live in the back with an outdoor kitchen, and are basically camping out.

We then drove to our afternoon concert location in Timisoara, one of the largest Catholic Cathedral in Romania outside of Bucharest – Domul Romano-Catolic. The acoustics were again fantastic and proved to be an inspiration to all.

The church was packed, with standing room only, people standing all the way down the side aisles, and stacked two to three deep at the back of the church. This writer believes that it was one of our best concerts so far.

The chorus was accompanied by a full orchestra, two female soloists, and two different pipe organs (only one at a time). I was able to talk with one of the nuns, with the help of an interpreter, following the concert. As I thanked her for allowing us to perform in her church, she stated how much she enjoyed the blessings of the concert.

Following the concert, many of us walked down to the city square, which was the location of the beginning of Romania’s December 1989 revolution against Communism. There we saw still bullet holes still in the church building where many lost their lives in their fight for freedom.

Update from Romania, Sept. 29

Louise Craig with Alin Apostol,
Romanian chorus director
By Louise Craig

A day off! It’s Monday in Sibiu. We are staying three nights in the Impâratul Romanîlor, touted as the oldest hotel in Europe. Johannes Brahms was a guest here at some point. Did we ever need his lullaby last night!

We arrived late last night after singing in another beautiful cathedral setting in Alba Iulia. An immense Catholic cathedral stands next to an equally immense Orthodox church. We had the privilege of going into the Orthodox church. It was every bit as beautiful as we could have wished.

As in 2009, Romanian Adventist churches in the area have provided us with wonderful food. In Arad and again in Alba Iulia, we were fed delicious, nourishing and very generous meals. Between yesterday’s rehearsal and concert, we had over one hundred boxes of pizza brought in. They were larger than the small individual pizzas we see in the US, more than enough for two or three of us to share, unless you were young and still growing (or not so young and still growing?). We left several boxes of pizza behind.

We spent two-and-a-half-hours in rehearsal and logistics set up, leaving the cathedral to run to a nearby church for our pizza party and a quick change. We needed to leave the church so they could have their mass. We returned with just enough time to line up and start.

Virginia Oliver again had the fun of playing a wonderful majestic pipe organ. There was a really old organ, but she played the ‘new’ organ, built in the late 1800s.

The length of the cathedral and location of the organ bench made for challenges coordinating between conductor and organist, so we reverted to relay conducting, with one of our staff standing in the organ loft, mimicking the conductor. A little nerve-wracking in moments but successful overall.

From the loft, we could see one man way back in the cathedral who was enthralled, directing, swaying, and just being one with the music. Ron Pestes got some great video, but you’ll have to wait to see it.

Lennon finally joined us from South Africa. The South African contingent struggled with getting visas to Romania and then with transit visas in London. Lennon was the only one who managed to make it all the way by coming via Dubai.

Tomorrow, we finally get to welcome Lev Vertylo and Viktor Bega from Ukraine. If there is one thing we have learned, it is that being flexible means so much more than, well, being flexible! Expect the unexpected and don’t be surprised at anything.

The singers deserve medals for going with the flow as schedules flex. For the most part, they have not experienced much of the stress of rethinking what happens next because the staff have handled changes so well. Special thanks to Donna Schmidt, who has managed the project with grace, determination, and huge doses of prayer. Rhonda Tilley has helped make the men look great and professional moving in and out of the platforms, even if she had to change nearly everything at the last minute because extra seats were added down the center aisle to accommodate the standing-room-only crowd last night.

I don’t want to leave anyone out so I won’t mention names, but ladies, you know who you are! Except for Bonnie Stathem, you are all learning on the job and doing it with aplomb.

Bonnie has been under the weather, so please, folk at home, send up prayers for Bonnie.

And speaking of prayers, kudos to our prayer team, led by Corleen Johnson, Brooke Stafford, Joan Fuller (I hope I got that right, Joan!), and joined by other travelers and local church members as they are available. There is worship on each bus as we travel, all of us hearing the same messages so that we are united in spirit. That unity is coming through in each song.

Today, we have a day off to get even better acquainted with Romania and with Romanians. There is much to see in Sibiu, but there is even more to see in the hearts of our new and old friends. Everywhere we go, we get to share our mission with people, inviting them to the concert. And each night, the attendance is higher than the night before. As gratifying as it is to see full houses, the best part of each night is watching faces moved by the Holy Spirit. And many of those faces are in the choir.

Thank you for supporting us in prayer. We can feel it.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Report from Romania, Sept. 28

Photo from Dennis Nutter,
OAMC member
By Louise Craig, OAMC executive director

What a rush! We just finished a concert in a cathedral in Timisoara. The music was incredible, enhanced by the amazing acoustics of the cathedral. Virginia played the magnificent organ. It was definitely an occasion for superlatives.

The audience was standing room only and clearly moved and involved with the music.

After the concert, most of the group walked to Revolution Square, the site of the beginning of the Romanian revolt against communism. In a spontaneous gathering, Romanians took to the streets. As soldiers surrounded them, they took refuge in a church. The soldiers fired on the crowd and into the streets. The event set off a chain of events that resulted in the overthrow of the government in days.

On the steps of that church, the combined men's choruses raised voices in celebration of liberty and freedom, especially freedom through Jesus Christ. The Romanians sang the patriotic song that was sung that fateful day. The Romanians gathered as an audience joined in heartily. The men's chorus also sang Soldiers of the Captain and We Have This hope.

Tonight, we head back to Arad for a well-deserved evening off. Tomorrow we embark on the second longest stretch of the tour, heading for Alba Iulia and another cathedral.

In spite of exhaustion, a turned ankle and a few cases of traveler's intestinal distress, everyone is doing well and having a wonderful time bonding.

Daily devotions on the buses have been an important part of the journey. One bus driver commented that he is sure God has been with us. We have encountered a major traffic accident on each trip, arriving just minutes after the accident. He has been so moved by the devotions and by the prayers on his behalf, he threw his cigarettes away in Cluj. He told Marius he is feeling much better eating our vegetarian meals and is considering becoming a vegetarian.

Before each concert, the prayer team, joined by local church members, prays over the concert, the conductors, the singers, the orchestra, and the audience. Last night, in Oradea, one of the concert hall's attendants was standing nearby. They invited her to join the prayer circle. They learned that she was Hungarian, a Catholic, and that her sister is suffering with cancer. They encircled her as they prayed. She was grateful and touched that they would care so much for a stranger. One of the Romanians exchanged contact information and will keep in touch with her.

The night before, as we sang, one of the singers noticed a couple sitting in the second row. When the men moved into surround position to sing Go, My Children, the singer noticed tears began to run down the man's face. As soon as the song was done, he moved toward the tearful man and wrapped him in a bear hug. Other singers commented later that they, too, had seen people emotionally touched by the music.

There are so many more stories of the power of the Holy Spirit being manifest. We can hardly wait to tell you more!

Update from Romania, Sept. 24 & 25

By Dennis Nutter, OAMC member

Photo from Dennis Nutter
Wednesday, Sept 24 – The morning was spent in another rehearsal, this time with the orchestra. All three conductors were able to clarify their vision of timing and sounds. Rough spots were resolved with both the chorus and orchestra.

Lunch was eaten and buses boarded as we left Stupini and headed for Sinaia, the home of the first king of Romania, King Carol I, who ruled from 1866-1914. We had 40 minutes to explore the royal estate before heading to the concert hall, Sala Teatrului, Casino Sinaia.

Turn out at this concert was not what was expected, but it provided a good warm-up and things to work on prior to the next concert. We did have a female soloist, which adds so much to Khutsho, a song of peace written and conducted by our South African director, Mokale Koapeng.

Supper that night was a sack lunch, which was handed to us prior to leaving Stupini that morning. We arrived close to midnight with the instructions to turn in our keys, and take our luggage to the bus by 6:45 am for a 7:00 breakfast and 8:00 departure the next morning. 

Click for more photos by Dennis Nutter.

Thursday, Sept 25 – The day started early with three per room and a whole floor sharing four toilets, four showers, and eight sinks, preparing to meet the deadlines for the departure, given the previous evening. Today was to be our longest travel day of the tour, with over five hours of drive time.

After the first two hours of travel, we stopped at the historic town of Sighisoura for two-and-half hours for sightseeing. The highlight of that stop, for those fortunate enough to be at the right place at the right time, was to sing Steal Away and Soldiers of the Captain under the leadership of Mokale, in the chancel of the church on top of the Citadel. This church dates back to 1345, older than most of us in the group!

After sightseeing, the group could be found eating their sack lunches by the side of the bus. Once we were back on the bus, the drivers pointed the buses towards Cluj.

After “roughing it” the first three nights in Stupini, we were spoiled by the luxury of the Grand Hotel Napoca. We arrived later than we’d anticipated, so had to change immediately into our concert attire and rush over to Ordea, Filamonica de Stat. Though not a packed house, there was a nice crowd. We had a harpist for the first time and our singing certainly improved from the night before. This concert hall had much better acoustics and the singers a much better bead on the director, which certainly contributed to a much-improved performance.

Do you remember what this writer posted regarding the inspiration of the wind storm on Monday night? Well I saw it at work this evening at the concert in Cluj-Napoca Sala Auditorium Maximum!

Four Hymns of the Second Coming always seems to inspire the audience as it does the chorus when used as the finale to the concert and as I looked over the audience, this evening was no exception.

On this tour, we have been singing it as the next to the last number, providing all the inspiration that it usually does. After the recognition of the artists, and three conductors, and the applause finally dies down, we conclude the program with a musical farewell – “Go My Children, with My Blessing,” a very personal message from the Lord Jesus to his followers. We typically sing that song after encircling the audience on all four sides.

On this particular evening I was standing just below the conductor facing the audience. I saw many very appreciative faces, but as I looked just to my left, I saw a middle aged gentleman deeply moved by the Spirit, soaking in the beauty of the moment and the message, with tears running down his cheeks. With that picture deeply etched in my mind, I found that I was struggling to make it through the last two verses of the song, as I sensed moisture beginning to run down my cheeks as well. Something prompted me to step out at the end of the song and give him a big hug. Truly a special moment for me, and one that made it worth the whole trip right there!

That evening replays itself every time we sing the song now, and will remain one of the highlights of our trip.